When you receive an I-20 for an F-1 student visa or a DS-2019 for a J-1 exchange visa,
you must take these forms to a U.S. Consulate to obtain the actual visa. Whether or
not you receive the visa depends on a number of factors, including your financial
resources, academic record, and the purpose of your program. In many cases however
the most important factor is the consular official's determination of your likelihood
to return to your home country after you complete your academic program in the United
It is very important for you to understand this issue in order not to harm your chances
of obtaining a visa. Based on information received from various consular officers,
CSU San Marcos offers the following recommendations for you to keep in mind when you
are preparing for your visa interview.
- Answer every question truthfully, even if you think an honest answer may jeopardize
your chances of obtaining a visa. Any indication that you are not being truthful will
result in a visa denial.
- Listen carefully to what the consular officer asks you and then answer the question
directly. Do not respond with a prepared speech. If you do not understand the question,
ask the consular officer to repeat or explain it.
- Remember that F and J visas are nonimmigrant visas. However, United States law assumes
that anyone who enters the U.S. on one of these visas intends to emigrate to the United
States permanently. The law requires you, the applicant, to provide evidence that
you plan to return home after you complete your academic program. There is no way
to conclusively prove that you will return, but the consular officer is looking for
indications that you are likely to return. Although they know that many people on F and J visas eventually do emigrate
to the United States, they are looking for your "current intent" and not what might
happen in the distant future.
- The best evidence of intent to return is demonstrating strong ties to your country.
This could include family you leave behind, a job that you plan to return to after
completing your academic program, a business of your own, or property or other assets
at home. If you had a brother or sister who came before you as a student and returned
to your home country, this can be used as evidence of your likelihood to return.
- Factors that might work against you in the mind of the consular officer include an
offer from someone in the U.S. to financially support you, poor English language ability
or a poor academic record (which can suggest that you are not a serious student),
lack of family ties in your home country, and poor job prospects in your home country
you’re your return.
- Two factors that are not in your direct control are the level of economic development
of your home country and your personal economic status. Although it may seem like
discrimination against poorer people, the reality is that people from less developed
countries and/or with poorer economic prospects are more likely to want to stay in
the United States. This can make it more difficult for someone in poor economic circumstances
to obtain an F or J visa. All you can do is present the strongest case possible, emphasizing
those factors that will convince the consular officer of your intent to return back
home after you have completed your studies.
- Remember, you will only have 1-2 minutes to convince the consular official that you
deserve to receive your visa. While you should not have a prepared speech, you should
anticipate the questions that are likely to be asked and know what you plan to say
in response to those questions.
If you are denied a visa, you will be informed of the reason for the denial and be
given the opportunity to try again if you can provide additional evidence to support
your case. Before you reapply, be sure you understand the grounds for your denial
so that you can make your appeal as effective as possible. Please inform the Office
of Global Education at firstname.lastname@example.org if your visa application is denied.